Ellen and I arrived early at the barn. We got the first 3 stalls cleaned, and then I decided to start Cruiser’s physical therapy walk while she cleaned Dante’s stall. I led him to the back of the property. As we turned to head towards the barn, I saw someone riding the Saddlebred burst out of the barn being chased by the trainer with a whip. (They train very differently in the Saddlebred world.) The Saddlebred was doing a high-stepping trot straight towards us. He had the chains on his legs and looked a bit wild. We hid behind a manure pile.
All was quiet, so we peeked out to see them trotting back to the barn. We followed at a walk. The walk lasted about 5 seconds. Cruise’s head and tail flew up in the air—he had gone full Arab on me. He started doing his most beautiful, floating trot—and it was sound. I struggled to keep him slow, with some success, but he wouldn’t walk. I have been going through episodes like this for over 23 years, now, so it didn’t surprise me. I had to circle him a few times as he danced about. They offered to stop the Saddlebred, but I knew it made no difference at this point. They trotted past as we worked our way carefully and beautifully back to the barn.
Though I might be used to this kind of behavior, no one else who saw us was. They were astonished by Cruiser’s transformation. The trainer pointed at us and said, “Now that’s what I want our horse to look like.”
Eventually, I made it to the indoor arena—away from all the excitement. That didn’t change Cruise’s behavior one bit. He has been waiting 2 months to show me that he was sound. This happened when his cough went away, too. He was so excited to be moving around. I called Ellen to see him—dancing about—sound. Finally, he quieted down and became a mild-mannered Morab, again.
I think I have my horse back. My plan is to stick to my plan. He is accustomed to his half hour walking, and we will use that as his starting point. Starting next weekend, I will start to ride him lightly at a walk for about a month and still hand lead him when I don’t have as much time. I will trot him in hand for short amounts of time to monitor his soundness. If all goes well, I will very gradually increase his exercise. He hasn’t been ridden since November, and at his age, I feel I should be very careful that he doesn’t overdo it. We are doing pretty good since I thought he was going to die last winter. I will take whatever he will be able to give me and be thrilled with it.